@EdwardGLuce on Anglo-American Virtue in peril. Political Observer comments

What an opening paragraph, brimming with Reagan/Thatcher nostalgia, such is the moral/political desperation of Mr. Luce for a ‘beginning’ to  his political moralizing.

It takes effort to recapture how Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s hastened the demise of the Soviet Union. Images of that triumphal moment are as fresh as yesterday. The atmospherics smell of another era. Yet it is worth the effort.

Consider the headline and sub-headline:

Headline: The humbling of the Anglo-American world

Sub-headline: Abandonment of common sense during the pandemic has damaged the US and UK national brands

Note that Mr. Luce riffs on the themes of ‘Anglo-Protestant Virtue’ of Samuel P. Huntington’s ‘Who Are We? The Challenges to America’s National Identity. But quite surprisingly, its not just the editors that use the concept of ‘brand’ , but Luce himself. After his stern admonishments to those who have failed, like the good school master of old, I found his stern scolding a bit comic. He returns to the the least compelling argument of his moralizing stance : ‘brand’

Corporate brands take years to build but can be broken in short order. The national brands of America and Britain are the product of centuries. Self-belief gives them a greater appetite for risk than found in non-anglophone democracies such as Germany, Spain, France, Japan or Italy. But it is producing worse outcomes. Each of the latter have living memory of defeat, occupation, revolution and failure.   

How deeply entrenched in Mr. Luce’s conceptual imagination, in fact colonized by Neo-Liberalism, and its idee fixe of ‘The Market’ as an historical singularity. That is not just a part, of an historical development of the human project, but that it is defined by the Economic Trinity of Mises,Hayek and Friedman,that the Market is the central animating force in human history! ‘Brand’ just being a part of a larger Capitalist World made up of ‘Products’. That became the center of commerce’s propaganda arm of Public Relations and Marketing, or vice versa.

The very notion that:  ‘Self-belief gives them a greater appetite for risk than found in non-anglophone democracies such as Germany, Spain, France, Japan or Italy.’ The series of Enlightenments, yes plural, that manifested itself across Europe is subsumed under the Luce Market/Brand portmanteau. The history of European Thought offers:  Germany:Kant, Reinhold, Fichte, Schelling Hegel. France:Voltaire, Rousseau, Montesquieu, Buffon and Denis Diderot. Italy: Pietro Verri,  Cesare Beccaria, Francesco Maria Pagano and Gaetano Filangieri. How do these thinkers factor into Luce’s political polemic? History Made to Measure, is propaganda. 

Let the reader come to terms with the Leader, in the pecking order of the European Settler States, as declared by Mr. Luce , with Australia, New Zealand and Canada, finishing last. Note that most celebrated American Enlightenment personages were slave-holding white men, who believed in, and practiced, their natural superiority. That notion of ‘superiority’ has become sedimented in the American Political Imagination, as Exceptionalism. 

Political Observer





About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.' https://www.lrb.co.uk/v15/n20/perry-anderson/diary
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